[MARMAM] New publication on North Atlantic right whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence

Leah Crowe - NOAA Affiliate leah.crowe at noaa.gov
Mon Dec 13 14:51:35 PST 2021


My co-authors and I are pleased to announce our recent publication:

Crowe LM, Brown MW, Corkeron PJ, Hamilton PK, Ramp C, Ratelle S, Vanderlaan
ASM, Cole TVN (2021) In plane sight: a mark-recapture analysis of North
Atlantic right whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Endang Species Res
46:227-251. https://doi.org/10.3354/esr01156

ABSTRACT: North Atlantic right whales *Eubalaena glacialis* are most
commonly observed along the eastern seaboard of North America; however,
their distribution and occupancy patterns have become less predictable in
the last decade. This study explored the individual right whales captured
photographically from both dedicated and opportunistic sources from 2015 to
2019 in the Gulf of St. Lawrence (GSL), an area previously understudied for
right whale presence. A total of 187 individuals, including reproductive
females, were identified from all sources over this period. In years when
more substantial survey effort occurred (2017-2019), similar numbers of
individuals were sighted (mean = 133, SD = 1.5), and dedicated
mark-recapture aerial surveys were highly effective at capturing almost all
of the whales estimated in the region (2019: *N* = 137, 95% CI = 135-147).
A high rate of inter-annual return was observed between all 5 study years,
with 95% of the animals seen in 2019 sighted previously. Capture rates
indicated potential residencies as long as 5 mo, and observed behaviors
included feeding and socializing. Individuals were observed in the northern
and southern GSL, regions divided by a major shipping corridor. Analyses
suggest that individuals mostly moved less than 9.1 km d-1, although rates
of up to 79.8 km d-1 were also calculated. The GSL is currently an
important habitat for 40% of this Critically Endangered species, which
underscores how crucial protection measures are in this area.

The paper and supplementary materials are available via open access through
Endangered Species Research:

Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions!


Leah M. Crowe (she/her)
Protected Species Branch
Northeast Fisheries Science Center
166 Water Street
Woods Hole, MA 02543
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